Sun Red Sun - Lost Tracks
Badlands - Dusk
Sun Red Sun is the band Al Romano had going with a hot young vocalist named Ray Gillen, who had
finished with Badlands and was halfway through SRS's debut when he died of AIDS five years ago.
There's been the semi-offical first album from '95, the recent odds 'n' sods/alt. versions EP of
Ray's sessions and now we've got a bigger, better glimpse into the band with all sorts of big
shots on board, main collaborator being acrobatic vocalist John West. The music is thick, bluesy,
bottom-heavy Ameri-metal, sort of early Savatage meets Deep Purple or '80s Kiss or sumthin',
loaded with integrity, but somewhat gruff, regressive and ill-assembled, many metal styles
buckling under the weight of these emotionally uncommitted high-end talents. But in the spirit of
the title, there's four new tracks, plus some live stuff, even further betraying the necessity of
some philosophical cohesion. Weird, quite necessary for the fans despite arguable overlap. Often
perfect stadium rock but missing something: Ray. On the other hand, with Dusk, we get Ray in all
is splendour. And I can't think of a record I would imagine asking the headbangin' genie in a
bottle for more than a friggin' lost Badlands record, Dusk being the Japanese release of the
shelved and doomed third. Badlands of course was one of the greatest blues metal outfits ever to
walk God's green, this swansong featuring the Voodoo Highway line-up of Greg Chaisson, Jeff
Martin, visually-impaired Ozzy axeman Jake Lee and deceased vocal master Ray Gillen. I dunno man,
these guys could have been the next Zeppelin, or Aerosmith or James Gang or Bad Co. or something,
Dusk containing all the six-shooting swagger we'd come to expect from this highly explosive but
traditional, spontaneous but composed pack of four. Picture Corrosion Of Conformity tapped with
the finesse of the Allmans, or Pagey dealt the discipline of the hair bands and their producers
circa 1990. It all spells alcohol and fire, '70s volume and choking dust, that mushed up Mexican
meal in the gatefold to Tres Hombres, or a Van Halen with Jim Dandy calling the shots. Lots of
images, all of them soaring with the free spirit of rock 'n' roll. Oh yeah, Badlands had it, and
so should you. Contact: crook-drecords.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ratings 7, 9.5
XYZ - Hungry (Axe Killer)
XYZ's second record (EMI '91) was another competent spread that just borrowed for a blank
composite make up. The band looked like Winger, sung like David Coverdale, Shake Down The Walls
cloned Def Leppard, and When I Find Love copped Rainbow In The Dark, while adding your basic
Whitesnake acoustic intro. Everything left is completely anonymous, mean, median and averaged.
However this French CD reissue from '99 adds spiffed cardboard slipcover, the label's usual
power-packed booklet, and one bonus track (a typically pilfered sort of Zep acoustic). Little in
the way of art, although all the worthy hair band detailing was definitely there.
Dangerous Toys - Pissed
Dangerous Toys - the r-tist 4-merly known as dangerous toys
Losing the big label deal had knocked the bitescratchkick back into whipping boys Dangerous Toys.
And '94's Pissed has most skeptics turned right 'round with its sprightly melodic upratchet metal.
Big improvement here is strength of song and then up once more for chorus, a sound then caked with
a less lethal level of the grime that saw Skid Row's Slave To The Grind melt party metal in its
shiny shoes. The alcohol rockers steamroll, and the quiet moments genuflect at least towards a
kind of Dollsy been-there-done-that sincerity sphere. Erstwhile, the band's decadent boogie had
been muted to a hinted whiff of blues travel coating timeless hard rock, more a blasted smear of
three decades than anything pinned to '80s tease-by-numbers stripmall metal. Potentially a
spirited new directive for reeling and confused Hollyrockers, Pissed isn't so much angry as
defiant. But there's a lavish look to '95's quizzical follow-up with the princely title, the band
finding themselves driven into a commerce-corrupted about-faceoff with alt.grunge. However DT had
grown and learned beyond what one might expect, tracks such as Pearl Jammy ballad Heard It All and
melodically complex grungster The Numb proving that when bands from metal arrive in the new world,
their work ethic holds them in good stead, kicking the stuffing out of lo-fi shoulder-stoopids
through a combination of chops and hard-won road wisdoms. Redneck retros didn't care at the time
how good DT was writing, and any thought of new fans quickly became wishful thinking. But the
record is a boisterous neu-rock excursion for those who care, and considerably heavy and mindful
of the '70s to boot.
Ratings 8, 8